How Soon Should Someone Seek Medical Treatment After An Accident?
It depends upon the injury, but we always suggest that you immediately seek the advice, evaluation, care and treatment of a physician immediately after an accident if you think there is any chance you may have been injured in that accident. An office consultation with the family physician is not that expensive. If you do not get medical treatment shortly after an accident and your injury is soft tissue in nature, such that it is not going to readily show up on an x-ray or a diagnostic study, then your gap in medical treatment and not having gotten medical treatment right after the accident is going to make it extremely difficult to prove that the soft tissue injury is related to the accident.
It is not impossible, but the longer you go without treatment, the more difficult it will be to relate the medical condition, the soft tissue injury, to the accident. There is no bright line, but generally speaking, if it is just soft tissue and it has been longer than thirty days since the accident, then it is extremely difficult to relate this injury discovered thirty or sixty days later back to this particular accident. If it is hard tissue, that could be a little bit easier time for you, as long as you, in relating the hard tissue injury, like a broken bone or like a torn ligament, or torn tendon, as long as you do not have any other intervening accident. The accident or the collision or incident that you are claiming you were injured in is the type of injury. It would cause this particular type of accident or type of physical force that would cause this particular type of injury and then you should not have as much a problem proving they are related. You are just really setting yourself up for an insurance company denying the claim and forcing you, perhaps, to at least file suit if not go to trial when you have a gap in your medical care. The biggest reason that the case probably does not settle and goes to trial is a gap in medical care. It is not pre-existing. That is the second reason that a case may not go to trial, is because the insurance company says the injury is all due to a prior issue. The biggest reason a case does not go to trial is a gap in medical care.
If you are involved in, say, an automobile accident and you wait two months and then you step into a doctor’s office and say, hey, this problem with my low back is related to an automobile collision I had two months ago, I will guarantee you that doctor is going to be skeptical about that and wonder why it is you did not seek his medical advice sooner if you felt it was due to this collision. Why did you not go to the hospital? Why did you not call for an ambulance? Why did you not check with some healthcare provider over the two months since this collision occurred? It just really creates a lot of doubt in the healthcare provider’s mind and they are the ones that, generally speaking, take your word for causation, take your word for what happened in the collision.
When they doubt you from the very beginning because you waited two months, you can be rest assured that the insurance company and the insurance company lawyers are going to doubt your word, and jurors will doubt your word as well. It is just really the kiss of death to allow gaps in medical treatment. And the biggest gap and the worst gap is not getting medical attention immediately after a collision. I have seen many cases where people have gotten medical care the day of a collision and then for a variety of reasons, such as insurance, lack of insurance coverage and a misunderstanding of what they were supposed to do from the emergency room where they sought initial medical treatment, not get medical care, then after that for several months. Since they got medical treatment right after the accident and they got a medical evaluation, the jurors and insurance companies are less suspicious that they are making something out of nothing.
Getting that initial medical evaluation, that initial medical treatment is important. Being truthful to that doctor, but getting in to see that doctor right away is just so critical to your personal injury case. I cannot emphasize it enough. I tell people, you have insurance under Kansas law with your automobile, if it is an automobile accident (and that’s the typical claim), since your automobile is insured, you have what is called no-fault medical coverage and you might as well take advantage of it. And take the ambulance. If you are offered an ambulance ride, take the ambulance, go to the emergency room, get thoroughly checked out and then if it ends up being nothing, so be it. Your insurance will take care of that and you avoided the worst case scenario of having a serious injury.
If you do not have auto insurance because you are a passenger and the driver did not have auto insurance, your health insurance should take care of it. Everyone knows that health insurance is mandatory, so most people have some form of insurance and that is what it is for. Creating a doubt in your case from the get-go because you did not get medical care from the beginning is just a cardinal sin in personal injury cases and there is no reason for you to handicap yourself by doing so.